Brazilian health agency ANVISA has advised against all cruise ship travel operating in its waters. At least five ships are affected by the new advisory, sailing for MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises and two cruise ships have already been banned from operating for now.
The move follows a call for the “immediate temporary interruption of the cruise ship season in Brazil” after Costa Diadema and MSC Splendida both experienced what ANVISA called a ‘sustained transmission of Covid-19 among crew members.’
Brazil Issues Recommendation to Suspend All Cruises Immediately
On December 30, Costa Diadema‘s operation was interrupted, and guests who tested positive for COVID-19 were taken off the vessel in the Port of Salvador. After this, the vessel was ordered to proceed to Santos, near Sao Paulo, to disembark all passengers. According to the Brazilian health agency, 68 people were infected onboard.
On January 1, MSC Splendida reported 78 Covid-19 cases. The vessel has since returned and docked in Sao Paulo. According to ANVISA, 26 passengers and two crew tested positive from MSC Preziosa, which was cruising off the coast of Rio de Janeiro and has since returned here. The vessel is still operational.
Following the caseloads found on board the vessels, the health agency has called for a complete ban on cruises taking place along the Brazilian coastline; in a statement on its website, the Agency states:
“Anvisa reinforces the urgency of the immediate interruption of the cruise ship season in Brazil. Anvisa advises against the boarding of passengers who have scheduled trips on cruise ships for the next few days, especially in view of the dizzying increase in cases of Covid-19, with identification of outbreaks on board the vessels operating on the Brazilian coast. The Agency’s recommendation takes into account the rapid change in the epidemiological scenario, the risk of damage to the health of passengers, and the unpredictability of operations at this time.”
“Due to the serious risk to the population’s health, Anvisa has already recommended to the Ministry of Health, since 12/31, that the position on the cruise ship season set forth in Ordinance GM/MS 2.928/2021 be revised until the sanitary and epidemiological scenario is reassessed.”
As of this moment, both Costa Diadema and MSC Splendida are banned from operating in Brazil. A possible ban on cruising until ANVISA believes the situation to be safe again could lead to the suspension of operations for a total of 5 cruise ships.
There are three MSC Cruise ships and two cruise ships from Carnival Corporation’s Costa Cruises operating in Brazil. Most notable is MSC’s 153,516 gross ton, 4,132-passenger cruise ship, the MSC Seaside. Currently, this vessel is still operational at level 3, meaning the cruise can continue for now.
Costa Fascinosa is, as of this moment, in Santos, where a new set of guests will embark on the vessel. So far, the vessel is operational under ANVISA’s level 3, meaning the vessel is also still in compliance with the rules and regulations set out.
The same counts for MSC Preziosa. Despite the 26 cases that have been reported, the vessel has not yet been forced to halt operations. MSC Cruises has reacted to the developing situation in Brazil. The cruise line said to France24 its ships would “maintain their future cruise programs unaltered.”
“In the current context, a cruise is one of the safest vacation options in the world. No other sector of the travel and tourism industry has such a complete and robust protocol to contain the spread of infectious diseases.”
While the three vessels are allowed to continue operations, ANVISA advises guests not to board a cruise ship. With caseloads mounting for Omicron worldwide and the relative ease that ANVISA has closed down MSC Splendida and Costa Diadema, it would not be surprising if many people do follow this advice.